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story.lead_photo.caption Karen Benson (center), of Gravette, was recently chosen as interim supervisor at the Gravette Public Library. She is shown here with new library staff member Brittany Shreve and long-time employee Artemis Edmisten. Benson, who is working on a degree in journalism, had high praise for her staff and said she is excited about the new job and enjoying meeting the patrons. She invites all in the area to come in, get acquainted and learn about services the library offers. - Photo by Susan Holland

— Mayor Kurt Maddox announced last month that he has selected Karen Benson as interim supervisor at the Gravette Public Library. She has quickly settled into the new position and says she is enjoying the work. She has already come up with a lengthy list of programs and services she would like to see the library offer.

She has planned some Thanksgiving activities for youngsters at the library, including a drop-in scavenger hunt for elementary school students and story hour for preschool children. She hopes to offer a Makers Program for middle school and high school students after the first of the year, providing creative problem-solving activities similar to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. Changes to the adult fiction section are planned with books to be categorized by genre.

The library is promoting “Library 2 Go” which allows patrons to check out books online. People are invited to bring their iPads, Kindles and other electronic devices to the library where library staff will provide technical assistance in downloading the OverDrive app and enroll anyone who does not have a library membership because one is required to download e-books. Benson has high praise for her two staff members, Artemis Edmisten and Brittany Shreve. Artemis has worked at the library for about two years and Brittany just joined the staff in early November.

Benson was born in Little Rock and grew up in nearby Bryant where she graduated from high school.

“Going to the library has been a part of my life since I was in elementary school when I was introduced to a series of Alfred Hitchcock books for children,” she said.

Her introduction to public libraries came later in life. Then she realized that libraries offered so many other things than reading books for enjoyment.

“There were so many resources,” she said. “Whatever I was interested in, plants, home improvement, personal finance, investments, there were books full of information.”

Benson’s employment has primarily been in corporate real estate. She was employed by Dillard Department Stores, Inc., in Little Rock as a real estate paralegal. She left Dillard’s to serve with her husband in a children’s ministry through Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes, where they were houseparents at a children’s home in Monticello before coming to northwest Arkansas to manage a shelter. She joined Walmart Stores, Inc., in 1998 and was employed as a paralegal before moving to the realty management department in 2001, ultimately serving as senior realty manager.

“Although I don’t have prior library management experience, I have transferable management skills and am pleased to have been given the opportunity to serve my community in a volunteer capacity as the interim library supervisor,” she said.

Benson graduated from Central Baptist College in Conway with an associate of arts degree. She took journalism from Arkansas State University and the University of Central Arkansas and took business classes at the University of Arkansas. Her goal is to complete a bachelor of science degree in journalism from CBC next May. She lacks only four classes, which can be completed through the College Level Examination Program and online courses.

She and her husband Howard moved from Bella Vista to Gravette last year.

“I love Gravette,” Benson said. “The people are wonderful. We used to pass through here going to Tulsa or Siloam and it just felt like home. I enjoy being at the library and meeting the people. The library is for the people, to serve the community.”

With that spirit of service, Benson should be a real asset to the library and a positive influence in the community. She invites everyone in the area to come in, get acquainted and see what the library has to offer.

Print Headline: Karen Benson is new library supervisor

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